Defying The Narrative

You could just enjoy it.

Your Houston Texans are headed to the playoffs for the first time in their 10 years of existence. Moreover, the way they have done it has been nothing short of remarkable. If you had asked me to name the five most important Texans before the season, I would have told you they were, in no particular order: Arian Foster, Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Mario Williams, and Johnathan Joseph. Four of those five have missed games this season, two of them are out for the season, and yet the Texans have become some sort of non-giving up ... team. Seven straight wins. A rookie third-string quarterback who, by all accounts, has played like a capable NFL starter so far. It's a remarkable accomplishment.

And yet, it has been one that, as many of you have pointed out in either the comments or FanPosts, is largely overlooked by the establishment football media. A nice footnote to the greater provinces of Tebowmania.

I have a rebuttal to that lack of mainstream interest: who cares?

One thing you have to remember about the mainstream media is that every storyline is carefully crafted from the beginning. It isn't enough to defy a story -- you have to destroy it. The Texans simply haven't received that chance yet, though they will in the coming weeks.

The AFC South, for the entirety of its ten-year existence, could accurately be described as Peyton Manning's domain. He is the narrative through which the entire AFC South was viewed -- questions about the Texans weren't built around the team themselves, but how could their defense possibly stop this transcendent quarterback? He's been banished not by the Texans winning, but by an injury -- in fact, he seems to have generated some sort of Banana Republic MVP movement based largely on the fact that the Colts are now terrible without him.

As a fan, is it degrading to watch these people fawn over the remains of Manning after watching what your football team has done this year? Absolutely. Moreover, once Schaub was slain by Albert Haynesworth, the narrative immediately shifted from "The Texans are winning the Manningless AFC South" to "Boy, the Titans are looking stronger! This could be a race!"

If you're one of those insecure types who needs validation from every authority figure -- you know, the type that makes Paul Kuhrasky have to write things like this -- know that defying the expectations won't be enough. The Texans need to win a playoff game before the media is allowed to embrace a new narrative about them. Now, here's the real kicker: do you really want the national media to build a narrative for you? The last three media narratives about the Texans have been, in order, "This team is a joke for picking Mario Williams," "Is this finally the year that the sleepers wake up?" and "Gary Kubiak will continue to hold this team back with terrible coaching." By my count, that's two false storylines and a generic one that required only the briefest of thoughts. Those of you hoping for more media coverage by some Bristol talking head may get your wish fulfilled, only for it to be Matt Millen talking about how T.J. Yates is better than Matt Schaub because of a playoff win and therefore should be starting.

I'm no scientist, but I think it's safe to say that 90 percent of football media narratives are driven solely by quarterbacks and wins. The fact that Tim Tebow won an incredible number of games at Florida has been a big deal for starting his narrative, regardless of the religious overtones and the fact that his actual passing acumen isn't really more than that of a capable NFL starter. This isn't to say that I'm not hoping for the Yates-Schaub arguments of the 2012 offseason, because you can be damn sure that I want the Texans to go as far as they can, but if they do win playoff games, that is going to be such an obvious narrative that it will overtake the resilience that I'm sure you're all hoping gets the headlines.

So I would say to you that if you are holding out for validation of this team from our corporate overlords: don't. You probably won't like where they are going. There is not a rich recent professional football tradition in Houston, particularly since we were left sans team for awhile. When Kissing Suzy Kolber writes something like "at least the Texans can start to shake the perception that they might actually be a lazily made user-generated team on Madden," that is exactly what fans in other cities probably think of our team, aside from the fact that Johnson and Foster have been great for their fantasy teams -- and when will they be back? We aren't relevant to them.

And that's perfectly fine. I don't want to ascribe blue-collar traits to our city, but we're used to the simple life here. Our games almost always start at noon, our team doesn't get the most pub, and all they've done this year is keep winning games in the face of all that have doubted them. Maybe it will continue, and maybe it won't -- all I know is that as long as Yates doesn't turn into a pumpkin, the Texans have a puncher's chance in every game they play in. So far, that's worked out pretty well.

So why not enjoy it while you still can? The simplest things in life are often the most enjoyable. Sometimes, my cat Rosie is in the mood to play fetch, and she'll run back and forth carrying a pen or something like that back to me. I don't need Bob Costas to notice that and write a sonnet about it to enjoy the fact that it's happening, and I certainly take no extra enjoyment from Mike Florio telling me that I may regret not purchasing a different pen to play with.

We, as fans, are being treated to one of the greatest under-the-radar stories in recent NFL history. Since the Texans have done all of this without so many of their key players, we as fans are free to have absolutely no expectations about what is happening. All that's left is figuring out the size of the collective shitburger that our Texans will force everyone to eat.

Enjoy it, regardless of what is said.

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